Tucson taxpayers could pay more for city pay raises, 3 million more
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A budget battle is brewing once again in Tucson. Some city council members are upset after finding out that taxpayers may take another hit. Instead of the $5.3 million already approved for pay raises, you could end up paying nearly 3-million more.
Business owner Keith Kramer knows a wrong move could cost him -- his company -- his workers -- his customers -- so he needs to know the bottom line. 'There's any number of things that could take a business down," he said.
And that's exactly why Councilman Paul Cunningham is so upset. He told KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos that the city budget planners downplayed the real costs of the city's recent pay raise.
"They should have explained to the public and everybody that yeah, it's 8 million but it includes water fees, raising garbage fees, it doesn't grow on trees," he complained.
Cavazos asked him, "Is it incompetence, deception, what is it?" He answered, "I think it's the staff putting themselves first."
"I think it's irresponsible," said councilman Steve Kozachik. He said the problem points to the leaders in two city departments -- Human Resources and Finance. "You got our finance person who's an assistant city manager saying I don't support that -- and our HR director saying yeah, let's present it anyway. Why would you do that?"
And why would the city manager, Richard Miranda, allow it to happen?
Kozachik said, "What you do as a CEO -- or city manager -- you sit with your finance person, your HR person and you put them all in the same room at the same time and when you put together the budget, here are the numbers, what should we present to council - what can we afford to do."
As an owner, Kramer expects that from his staff. He said, "Absolutely I rely on my staff, I try to surround myself with people smarter than me that know what they're doing. But ultimately it's going to come down to me and I have to take that information they're giving me and make an educated decision." Before it's presented to a client -- customer -- or council.
The next step -- the mayor and council will vote May 21st on whether to move the budget forward. KGUN9 called the city manager's office for a response, but city staff declined.